In the beginning –
I had no idea what was happening within me. I felt well, slightly tired but I just thought that was due to a long cold winter. I thought all I needed was a bit of summer. Some sunny days would put me right and boost my energy back up. Simple.
Then I noticed it. I was reaching for something over the arm of the sofa and all of a sudden felt something painful in my left boob. I reached to rub it better and that was when I found it. A lump. Right there. Quite large feeling and definitely there. One of those moments when your heart sinks and you just want that moment to disapear from your life forever so that you can go back to the previous moment, you know, the one before you found anything unusual. But it’s nothing to worry about is it, right?
But that doesn’t happen and you have to face things and get on – typically this was over a weekend so doctors appointment for Monday then.
Monday After a thorough examination my GP felt that I should be referred to the breast clinic at our local hospital. He said I will get an appointment within 2 weeks. I left his surgery feeling OK about things. He didn’t say there was anything to worry about, just that it should be checked – as any breast lump should be checked. Everything will be fine.
8 days later Appointment day at the clinic has arrived and I am still feeling well. Still tired, but then it is still cold and wintery. I must admit to being a little bit aprehensive about my appointment as I really don’t find mammograms the most comfortable things on earth! But I was still convinced that it was probably only a cyst or something like that.
So in to see the specialist, off for a mammogram, then for a scan (I’m starting to get a tad worried by this point), then they say they want to do a biopsy. (At this stage you realise there might be a bit of a problem – but they are only checking that it isn’t cancer, aren’t they?). I ask when they will do the biopsy and am told ‘now’…….hmmmm, scary.
Biopsy done it is back to see the consultant. That is when you hear the words that you have never wanted to hear – “the tests show it is cancer”. My heart sank, deeper than my feet. I could not take in what he was saying, what I was hearing. “…… Cancer, …….surgery, ……..mastectomy, …………chemotherapy….” I didn’t really hear many words inbetween the key words but somehow those ones shouted at me “…… Cancer, …….surgery, ……..mastectomy.”
He arranged another appointment to see me in the clinic tomorrow saying that the results of the biopsy will be with them and they will have a clearer idea – but he told me not to build my hopes up as it WILL be mastectomy and chemo for me. The nurse told me if I have any pain from the biopsy take a couple of paracetamol – I preferred to tackle it in my way and we stopped in to buy a bottle of wine on the way home!
It turned into a very long evening for me and my husband (things are going to be tough on him – he’s always liked my boobs!!). Every thought possible went through my mind – why me? why not me? what happens with chemo? no sun….I live at the seaside, that’s bloody cruel isn’t it? Why mastectomy, why can’t I be lucky enough to have a lump ectomy. All these things and a whole load more. When I felt I’d had enough thinking (and drinking!) I got ready for bed. I looked at my bust and wondered how long would I be able to do that? Not long enough seemed to be the answer
The next day Okey dokes, here we are again. In the room with us is a nurse and my macmillan nurse Jan, my husband and the breast surgeon. She explained everything again and discussed the results of the biopsy. It is still going to be mastectomy and chemo (and yes I probably will lose my hair) but we have a little more insight to the tumour. They are graded 1 to 3, mine is high grade 3 however the good news is that it hasn’t spread to my lymph glands – woohoo! good news at last. But there are signs of other pre-cancerous tumours – that good news didn’t last long did it. There was a whole load of conversation, examinations and dicussions on treatment plans, surgery and possible reconstruction, most of which by passed me. But the need for another biopsy to determine state of the pre-cancerous cells is announced. That is booked for the following week.
Now we know that I have breast cancer, that it won’t kill me but I do have to have surgery and am likely to lose my hair, it is time to tell the family. I’m not looking forward to that one.
So, the family have been told. They took it quite well really, obviously shocked and it was hard for them to take it all in, I look so well on the outside. Now they have the news for a while they are incredibly supportive, my daughter has been checking out scarves, wigs, effects of chemo etc. etc. Bless her x
I have had my pre op assessment, yet another scan on my lymph nodes – which still seem fine – and am now just waiting for monday to come round.
ONE MORE DAY
Ok, so one more day before the start of a whole new chapter in my life. It’s weird to think that this is me now and tomorrow I will be have a whole new me – I hope I like me!
In the time I’ve known about my cancer I’ve experienced such a range of emotions, to be honest I didn’t realize I had so many in me!
To begin with I was scared of the surgery itself – you know the sort of thing will it all go alright, I hope I wake up afterwards, will I die etc etc
Then came fear of after the surgery – what will I look like, what pain will I have, what will I look like, what bra will I need (indeed will I need a bra at all), what will I look like???
Next a need to go shopping. In the time we’ve had her my sweet little puppy dog has invested a whole load of energies into chasing my dressing gown and she has created quite a lacy edge to it. Can’t be seen in public wearing that so we hit the shops, only to find it seems to be the wrong season for such things. Very limited choice round here but I got one in the end – she better not chew this one
Back to the fear of not waking up
Then I started to think that with only one boob for the rest of my life I’d really rather NOT wake up. That was a bad day for me. I couldn’t face the challenge of this new me I was going to be. I just didn’t want it, but I knew there was no stopping it, I was going to get it anyway. Life can be a bitch. While at the hospital having yet more blood tests I called in at our local cancer support place. What fantastic people they are, they do such a great job. They welcomed me in and I blurted it all out! Poor them having to listen to me and my thoughts. But listen they did. They offered a friendly hand, a cup of tea and they made me smile and laugh again. A real tonic – thank you peeps.
The last couple of evenings have been spent with good friends and plenty of wine and I have really enjoyed them. I have received flowers and cards through the post and several phone calls from friends that live a way away. My daughter has rung me every day and of course there’s the grand daughters. So here it is the day before and I DO want to wake up, I DON’T care what I look like I just want to be me, I love what I have. I’m very lucky and life is sweet xxx
(oh, and I also have a bra thing sorted, phew!)
Right, the dreaded day has arrived. I am on the list for afternoon surgery. From this day my life changes forever. Last night I was struggling with the thought of living with only one boob. I would find it more palatable to lose them both – I like symmetry in my life. But I know that a double mastectomy wouldn’t be easier at all, in fact it would probably be doubly difficult! I will learn to live with however I turn out. I have a good, loving husband and a loving family and fantastic friends. I know it will turn out alright
Here’s to the new me, CHEERS! Xxxxx